By Robert Tapfumaneyi
THE US government has reiterated its commitment to assisting millions of vulnerable people in Zimbabwe.
This follows financial assistance disbursed through its philanthropic agent, USAID and the World Food Programme (WFP).
The aid will provide support to over 103,700 people through monthly cash-based assistance equivalent to US$12 each.
This has enabled beneficiaries to meet almost two-thirds of their daily food requirements for the next six months.
USAID’s support will provide relief for vulnerable families in eight urban areas across Zimbabwe.
The families have been struggling to meet their daily food needs due to the effects of Covid-19.
USAID and WFP are meeting the needs of people living in Gokwe, Redcliff, Kwekwe, Ruwa, Chinhoyi, Buhera, Chipinge, and Chegutu.
“The United States remains committed to the people of Zimbabwe,” said USAID/Zimbabwe Mission Director Art Brown.
“In addition to the US$10 million, we have provided to support the cash transfers for over 103,700 vulnerable Zimbabweans in eight urban areas, we are providing over US$60 million to support food distributions for nearly one million people in rural areas during the current lean season.
“During the pandemic, we will continue to prioritise our critical health and humanitarian assistance activities.”
In Zimbabwe, the lockdown measures have led to the shutdown of informal food markets, and as a result, informal workers struggle to find work, while access to food has become a key challenge for poor urban households.
“Today, we have expanded our urban social assistance programme to ease the challenges faced by urban communities, which have been worsened by Covid-19,” said Francesca Erdelmann, WFP Zimbabwe Representative and Country Director.
“We are grateful to USAID for its support in such a time as this.”
WFP’s Urban Social Assistance programme is scaling up to reach 326,004 people in 22 vulnerable urban domains in September, from its target of 292,865 people across 19 urban areas in August.
USAID and WFP aid will reach the most vulnerable and food insecure families, particularly women, people who are unemployed, and people suffering from chronic illness or disability.
Covid-19 is aggravating Zimbabwe’s already severe climate and recession-induced food security crisis, threatening to deepen and widen it.
In urban areas, where ongoing lockdown measures have triggered a massive loss of livelihoods, the number of food insecure people is expected to rise to 3.3 million, from 2.2 million, as the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic become more pronounced.